There is so much crazy news going on in real estate these days that we’ve decided to post something warm and fuzzy and free of negative drama. So when we heard the story of the group that’s trying to save the home of the author “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” we had to post it. And we love the story even more because the property being fought over happened to be purchased by the Queens Borough Public Library year with the intent of tearing the structure down and expanding the library.
The story begins in the early 1900’s when David John Leisk, aka: Crockett Johnson, lived with his family at 104-11 39th Avenue in Corona. He went to elementary school and high school nearby, and lived in an apartment inside a white two-story Italianate house. That was before the 7 train was built and when the block was called Ferguson Street.
Jump to 2013, and the library bought the home for $770,000 (according to public records). Amazingly, they didn’t know it was the home of the author. Since the sale, the building has been renting residences out to families, but plans were always in the works to eventually tear down the building and expand.
The Corona-East Elmhurst Historic Preservation Society, Inc. (CEEHPS) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, culturally inclusive organization dedicated to educating the public about the unique history and preserving the distinct character of the sister communities of Corona and East Elmhurst. CEEHPS, with help from local schools and other historical societies, is now hoping to save the house from the wrecking ball. This is a busy group, as they are working to landmark Dizzy Gillespie’s home and also the Dorie Miller Apartments. (We will save you the Google search – the Dorie Miller Apartments were the city’s first integrated co-op.)
Just when you are sick and tired of the kids never getting off of their iPads, and of your friends and family members never putting their phones down, we’re here to tell you that attendance at the library in Corona is up. Attendance at the library, which was built in 1968, was more than 240,000 between June 2015 and June 2016. The current 8,000-square-feet just don’t seem to be enough to serve the community.
CEEHPS members decided to launch a public letter-writing campaign this weekend to put the pressure on the library to keep the building. Their efforts have been quite creative and clever. Students are participating by writing a simple message — “Please save Harold’s house” — in purple crayon (Harold’s favorite way to dream up new worlds). Emails are also being sent to Walcott — in purple font.
“What we’d like to see them do is connect it to the existing building and make it a children’s library. You could have a children’s meditation park in the backyard. There’s so many things that can be done with the building,” said Carol Drew, the group’s president.
The power of the purple crayon lives on!